Some health researchers are pushing for a new metric to predict morbidity. Doctors generally check your weight against the Body Mass Index and no physical is complete without a check of your blood pressure. The proposed new measure is your waist circumference. This will probably become standard soon. The bigger around you are, the more diseases you can expect will come try to kill you.
Why am I posting this in ThisPlagueofDays.com? Disaster prep is useless if you aren’t up to moving out of the way of the hurricane. What are your chances if you have to wade through dangerous flood waters? What if no one’s around to help you load the back of the truck with survival supplies you had to liberate from Wal-Mart?
Ironically, if you’re gung ho and taste testing a lot of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), you’re probably overweight. MREs are packed with calories. The idea was to give soldiers energy. However, even soldiers in the field with all the running, walking and heavy toting they do, can easily put on pounds if they consistently eat the entire bag.
I encourage everyone to think in terms of sustainability (as opposed to pure survivalism.) Sustainability, conscience, recycling, cooperation, rational social engagement and treading lightly may even help us avoid some of the disasters headed our way. As with all global problems, the best and first thing you can do is to start with yourself. If you’re radically overweight, you aren’t ready, no matter how many cans of soup you have stored in the basement. I’m not ready, so I’m changing that.
My steps to taking better care of myself so I can care for others longer:
1. Thirty minutes of intense circuit training with weights (preferably free weights) is more effective for weight loss than sixty minutes on the treadmill. Whatever you do, after ninety minutes of exercise, you’re inviting free radical damage and the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in. To quote Tim Ferris of 4-Hour Body fame, “ounces are lost in the gym but pounds are lost in the kitchen.” You can’t exercise yourself out of this mess. You have to cook your way out of it, too.
2. Fat doesn’t cause fat. Fat is your friend because it gives you satiety. We were sold high-carb, low fat diets for a generation and we’re fatter than ever. That way just made us hungry failures. Dump your packaged weight-loss products, fad diets, powders, pills and false promises.
3. Protein is fine. (Try steaming it. Do not roll it in batter and do not fry it.) Vegetables are awesome. Fruits are peachy, unless you’re a diabetic in which case you’ll have to attend to portion control and follow your doctor’s nutritional plan that’s tailored to you.
4. Sugar puts on flab. Avoid sugar. Eliminate sugar and you can go into healthy ketosis (burning ketones and losing weight.)
5. Simple carbs (breads, pastries, candies, cookies, pasta) put on fat. Avoid it and the cravings will lessen eventually.
6. Up to six small meals through the day keeps your metabolism burning. Learn more about food and cooking. Educate yourself and you’ll have more delicious options. If you allow yourself to get bored with your new diet/lifestyle, you’ll fall back on bad habits.
7. Getting enough sleep helps you recover and energizes you.
8. More muscle = more calories burned each day. Build it.
9. Portion control. Try the Fitbit, SlimKicker or FitDay to track how many calories are going in and track energy expended. If you don’t write it down, you’ll get it wrong. You’ll always get it wrong, yet you’ll never eat less than you’re supposed to. You’ll always eat more than you’re supposed to. Write! It! Down! (Oh, and if you choose the Fitbit, please go to AllThatChazz.com and click the Fitbit link on the right to grab it so they send me a few dollars to support the blogs and podcasts. Thanks!)
10. Eliminate processed foods. They’re full of chemicals and crap and sweeteners that don’t help you and often make you want to eat more than you should. Non-foods are designed to make you want to eat more non-foods.
11. Instead, eat lots of green, leafy vegetables with as much variety in color as you can. (Preferably organic and wash it well.)
12. I watch portions on everything but vegetables. I can eat as many salads as I want (no croutons) and I use a little Greek yogurt for salad dressing. Seeds are good. Use caution when adding nuts. They’re awesome nutrition in small doses. They’re too much of a good thing if you eat too many and you can get to “too many” very quickly.
13. Daily walks outside and more friendly social interaction is good for you. If not, you’re a pasty-faced, Vitamin D-deficient Unabomber.
14. Start thinking of food as medicine to fuel your machine. Don’t live to eat. Find hobbies and pleasant distractions to fill the void.
15. Do not eat mindlessly in front of the TV. By the end of Game of Thrones, you’ll wonder where all the chips went. Stretch in front of the TV or while reading if you need to veg out.
16. Think like a thin person and be that. Thin people don’t go back for thirds.
17. Plan ahead for meals. If you don’t know what you’re eating at your next meal, you will wing it and you will make bad choices on the fly. Don’t just write down what you did eat. Write down what you will eat.
18. Sunday is a good day to get your cooking done for the week. I cook chicken breasts ahead of time. Baggies and Tupperware and freezer space are your friend.
19. Drink more water to flush your system. While exercising or in hot weather, drink more. (How much to drink is still surprisingly controversial. There’s a lot we still haven’t figured out.)
20. Be kind to yourself. Make sure you take time for you and make your new lifestyle a priority as an example to your children and so you’ll be happier. Put your exercise on the family calendar, just as you would a doctor’s appointment. It’s equally important and may help you avoid future doctor’s appointments.
21. Desk worker? Get a treadmill desk or a standing desk. Move more. Sedentary people die young. Fat, sedentary people die younger, receive fewer promotions, are thought (unfairly) to be less intelligent, are often socially isolated, lead less interesting lives, have less money and aren’t as happy. It sucks, but you know it’s true.
22. Focus on what you should do instead of what you shouldn’t do. Do that, and you’ll be less likely to let your appetite drive your life. I lost a lot of weight. I gained it back when I started to think about how deprived I was. Deprived of a brownie now is better than feeling deprived because you feel too self-conscious to go to the beach all summer.
23. Get over entitlement. When I feel down, I “deserve” a treat. When things go well, I “deserve” a reward. Treats and rewards were always chocolate croissants. Under those errors in thinking, when isn’t a good time to chow down?
24. Scrub your environment of things that tempt you. If there are no chocolate croissants in the house, I can’t eat them at midnight and hate myself when the acid reflux hits at 1 a.m. If you don’t bring it into the house, you can’t eat it. Therefore, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry and stick to your shopping list. A little discipline now, more sex later.
25. Focus on the positive so someday soon, you’ll like your mirror. Dignity is a great appetite suppressant.
26. Love yourself now. Overweight or underweight, taking better care of yourself is an act of love for yourself and others. If you decide you’re going to to hate yourself until you’re thin, you’ll eat more to self-medicate over those negative feelings. Don’t do that. You want to live and live better. You want to be able to play with your kids more actively now so they won’t remember a childhood that was couch-centric. Exercise now so you can play on the floor with your grandchildren. I want you to live! I need the readers! Live, dammit! Live!
27. Put yourself out there. Report to someone. No matter what commercial diet plan you follow, they’ll pretty much all work, from Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers to Dr. Bernstein. The one thing they have in common is you report your progress to someone on a regular basis. Accountability helps. Dare it.
Weight loss and continued weight management is a key survival tool, even if the optimists are right and the apocalypse never comes. A heart attack is your own private apocalypse.
Still not sure? Please consider all those cans of food you’re stocking up on as you prepare for an earthquake. They are full of sodium. Get in better shape and lose the excess weight now and you won’t be trying to fill a prescription for blood pressure pills in the midst of a crisis that paralyzes your city.
This is the program I’m following. I feel better, look better, sleep better and I’m getting zombie ready. This approach might not be for you. There are thousands of diets out there. Find the one that works for you, get back in control and get help. I didn’t start to get under control until I realized I was an addict and I had to make the big decision. Your better, safer life is one good decision away. The trick is to keep making that good decision, minute to minute, each day. Good luck! I feel for you. I’m working on it, too.
~ Robert Chazz Chute is the podcaster behind All That Chazz and Cool People Podcast. He is the author of eight books and This Plague of Days, a soon-to-be-released post-apocalypstic serial about a boy with Aspergers leading his family to safety during a plague that ravages the world. His websites are ChazzWrites.com, AllThatChazz.com, CoolPeoplePodcast.com, onlysixseconds.wordpress.com, and ThisPlagueofDays.com.